Japanese vending machines: Now dispensing Wi-Fi

Asahi Soft Drinks have revealed plans to set up thousands of new vending machines that will work as free Wi-Fi hot spots.
Written by Hana Stewart-Smith, Contributor

Asahi Soft Drinks have unveiled a new type of vending machine: one that acts a free Wi-Fi hub.

The vending machines, that will also dispense your standard drinks, will send out Wi-Fi signals to a 50m radius.

The Wi-Fi will be free and accessible to anyone without a passcode or payment. From these machines it will be possible to surf for up to 30 minutes before you get cut off. It's not much of a catch though, as users are free to log back on after their time is up.

You don't even have to buy a drink from the machine to get access to the network.

As of 2012 Asahi hopes to set up 1,000 of the new vending machines throughout five regions of Japan. The eventually goal is to increase the number by tenfold throughout Japan within the first five years.

Asahi is already one of the most dominant vending machine brands in Japan, with around 250,000 throughout the country. However, Wi-Fi is not what you would usually associate with Asahi Soft Drinks, a Tokyo based beverage company.

Wi-Fi hotspots are becoming more prevalent in Japan with the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets among consumers -- with these new vending machines simple, free Internet access will be more prominent than ever.

Additionally, the machines could serve useful for tourism and shopping. When a user logs on to the free Wi-Fi they are taken to a homepage with information about local shops and sightseeing locations.

On the release on their official website Asahi also commented that the Wi-Fi networks will be accessible via all the major network carriers, as well as all devices.

There is no denying that Japan is light years ahead of the West when it comes to vending machines.

One of the most recent innovations being tested is facial recognition -- with a new vending machine that scans approaching customers and displays advertisements for the right target demographic, amongst other useful features.


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